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Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan Quotes

Quotes by and about Reza Aslan

(Continued from his main entry on the site.)

Aslan: "When I was 16 years old, I read the book that has probably had the greatest influence on me - 'The Brothers Karamazov' by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This book was pivotal in making me realize what I wanted to do with my life: that I wanted to write for a living, that I wanted to write about religious topics, that I wanted to help others explore the same issues I could feel Dostoevsky making me grapple with, even that young age. Really, truly, this book is the impetus for who I am."

Aslan: "I honestly think that the best hope that we have is to foster a new kind of student, one who doesn't spend eight years in the basement of Widener Library at Harvard poring over a 13th-century manuscript and writing a dissertation on the changes in the vowel markings of a sentence. That kind of scholarship has a very small role in the world we live in now."

Aslan: "To ask whether Moses actually parted the Red Sea, or whether Jesus truly raised Lazarus from the dead, or whether the word of God indeed poured through the lips of Muhammad, is to ask totally irrelevant questions. The only question that matters with regard to religion and its mythology is 'What do these stories mean?'"

Aslan: "Religion is, by definition, interpretation; and by definition, all interpretations are valid. However, some interpretations are more reasonable than others. And as the Jewish philosopher and mystic Moses Maimonides noted so many years ago, it is reason, not imagination, which determines what is probable and what is not."

Aslan: "I get dozens of emails from Christians telling me that [my] book ['Zealot'] has actually empowered their faith."

Aslan: "Because I have advanced degrees in both religious studies and creative writing I like to go back and forth between the two disciplines. It keeps me from getting bored."

Aslan: "Were Jesus to preach the same thing today as he did 2,000 years ago, the very same people who claim to speak for him would run the other way. Look at the way that a large number of American Catholics and Protestants have responded to Pope Francis. I mean, they're calling him a Marxist, they're calling him a socialist simply because he's questioning the excess of capitalism. Well, if you've got a problem with Pope Francis, then you've got a problem with Jesus, because Jesus's preachings are in absolute stark contrast to the unchecked capitalism that has created this massive gulf between the very rich and the very poor in the modern world."

Aslan: "You know, you're either a person of faith, or you're not. You either believe that there's something beyond the material world that you can commune with, or you don't. If you do believe it, then it helps to have a language to help you express that ineffable experience - to yourself, and to other people. And that is all that religion is - that language."

Aslan: "I'm a Muslim not because I believe Islam is more correct than other religions, or that it's more 'true.' On the contrary! I'm a Muslim because the symbols and metaphors that Islam uses to talk about God and humanity, the relationship between creator and creation, are the symbols and metaphors that work best for me. That makes sense to me. They are not more valid, or more true, than the symbols of Judaism, or Christianity, say, but they just make more sense to me."

Aslan: "For example: There are important differences between Islam and Christianity in the metaphor for God. In Christianity, it's the trinity. God in three forms: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. The metaphor for God in Islam is tawhid, which means divine unity. The notion is that God is fundamentally indivisible. That God is, by definition, oneness. Form and substance: oneness. And as a result of that, God must be understood as inseparable from his creation. Meaning that there is no difference, there is no distance. In a sense, everything that exists only exists because it shares in the existence of God. That makes more sense to me than the metaphor of the triune God."

Washington Post: "He's irked by academia, saying it's populated by scholars prone to 'sit around in dusty rooms arguing about the vowel markers of ancient texts for the next 30 years.'"

The Guardian: "[When I interview him at his home he is] flashing ... a dazzling smile as he pats the family poodle, embraces his twin toddlers, 'My beautiful boys!,' and tells his wife he loves her. Twice."